The 1940’s saw a plethora of war-time espionage movies enthralling audiences with Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and ‘Lifeboat’ being two examples. Drawing on human conditions of trust and innuendo, those films played on viewer’s fears of ‘war spies on every corner’. Whilst not as well-crafted as Hitchcock’s films, ‘Allied’ carves its own niche. Using a romantic angle to present a tale, the spectre of suspicion casts doubt on a couple’s strong bond.
While working for Canadian Intelligence in North Africa in 1942, officer Max (Brad Pitt) meets French resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Gotillard). Falling in love, getting married and having a child, their union seems strong. Their idyll is shattered when agents suggest to Max his wife may be a double agent. Ordered to kill his bride or face the firing squad, Max is put into an awkward situation. Convinced she is being framed, Max goes to extreme lengths to protect his wife.
‘Allied’ is an old-fashioned Hollywood film. That isn’t a bad thing considering how quickly paced films are these days. ‘Allied’ takes time to develop Max and Marianne’s romance and allows the story to fully ‘breathe’. Whilst moments are slow, overall ‘Allied’ asks the viewer to fully invest in its characters and story. This is done well due to Robert Zemeckis’ strong direction which never once falters in its quest to craft a glamorous romantic thriller.
Zemeckis clearly strives for a 1940’s feel in atmosphere and visuals. The cinematography and music score are suitably lush and vibrant with both successfully conjuring World War 2’s constant danger and mystery. Pitt and Gotillard project the right amount of chemistry to make for a believable couple. You are never sure where the story will go but can easily follow the journey via their stoic performances.
‘Allied’ should appeal to those tired of endless fast and furiously moving films. It’s a rarely made classic old-style movie providing an oasis in a sea of commercial block-busters. It isn’t always perfect but is a solid small-time epic sure to please lovers of classic-like cinema.
Rating out of 10: 7
Beginning in 2003, the ‘Underworld’ series has been enduringly popular. Now onto its fifth instalment, ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ serves up more of the same. Full of stylised action and visceral violence, it hasn’t been anything that would give noted writers nightmares. The only bad thoughts would be for its producers if it doesn’t rake in the dollars although given its successful track record, that won’t be something causing concern. Typically over the top, its gothic visions hit its target with ease.
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a vampire death dealer waging an eternal war against the evil Lycans. Battling them and another Vampire faction wanting her blood and those of her daughter to create a horrifying hybrid, Selene’s work is cut out. With the help of ally David (Theo James) and her father Thomas (Charles Dance), Selene utilises her bag of tricks to defeat her enemies. With eternal darkness slowly moving in, the war turns bloodier under the moon’s malevolent gaze.
Fans of the ‘Underworld’ series will know what to expect with this latest entry. Explosions, actions and violence are all present and correct. Also notable is the usual convoluted plotting and wonky acting. ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ won’t be winning Oscars anytime soon although as a slice of CGI hokum it works. It’s hard taking anything seriously where the heroine endlessly rises from the ashes of certain defeat to tackle her enemies.
Anna Foerster doesn’t so much direct rather programs. She doesn’t have to do much except make each action sequence look different from previous films. Concentrating on the acting isn’t something she needs to do as everyone from Beckinsale down turns in uniformly wooden performances. ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ exists to extend a franchise and for viewers to sit back and drink in the noise and bloody spectacle – which it does.
Delivering what one expects ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ is a load of silly nonsense. It is entertaining as it delivers eye-popping visuals within its murky story. Yet another sequel will surely materialise if this is successful proving the commercial movie machine will never stop if there is cash to be made.
Rating out of 10: 5